The Final Week Begins

I’ve been spending most of my time on the boat the last few days.

We are 99% complete, but there are a few major items hanging out there.

– The boat will be hauled out Tuesday, to fix a leak at the stabilizer

– ABT is coming back to upgrade the heat exchanger used to cool my hydraulic system

– The Simon system is not monitoring my new flow sensors or my electrical system. I added amazing new sensors that give me a weath of information, and the sensors are working fine. I now can see the exact volume of water being used to cool my hydraulics or a/c system. The flow sensoring has already justified itself, through spotting a problem with inadequate cooling water flow, that has probably existed since the boat was new. The electrical sensors let me know exactly the electrical load, measured at the point the power is generated. I already had meters on all of my electrical panels, but interpreting them has not been easy. Values from different panels have to be added together, and because some panels are sometimes fed via inverters, and sometimes via a generator or shorepower, there isn’t an easy way to quickly know power consumption (until now). All of the new sensors are in and working, but the linkage to Simon still has to happen. The technician who was working on this had to deal with some health issues, and has returned to Canada. Argh. I’ll figure it out.

– The heater for the hot tub has failed. I know I’ll get no sympathy on this one, but it still needs fixed.

Roberta and I have been busily loading boxes of food onto the boat. We loaded eight large boxes of meat yesterday, and have another big load today. It may seem like a lot, but we’re preparing for a five month voyage, with a lot of different people on board.

Here’s something from yesterday… I ordered a bunch of custom clothes for the trip, to use as gifts for our guests. As usual, I probably went a little over the top, in that I bought everyone nice custom “official GSSR” caps, shirts, vests, jackets, duffel bags and more. Over the next five months, between friends and crew, a lot of people will be coming and going on Sans Souci. Yesterday, Bill from called with the good news that all of the clothes were ready. He offered to deliver them. I said “Great!”, but then when he showed I realized I had a problem. He came in a big van, with TWELVE boxes of stuff. Argh. The boat is already overloaded with spare parts and provisions. I had no idea where to put 12 boxes of clothing! I had to send him back to the factory with everything, and we’ll ship it to everyone, then they can bring it with them when they come to the boat (they aren’t all on board at once). Sans Souci has an immense amount of storage, but we have an immense amount of food and spare parts on board.

There are only four days to go prior to departure, two of which the boat will be out of the water ..

I’ll be stressing out all week, and working long hours, but overall, the boat is in terrific shape, and we are ready to go. When I have time to worry about t-shirts, and heat for the hot tub, it’s a sure sign that the important things are under control.

-Ken W

34 Responses

  1. Don Cochrane:

    No — I am not sending my blog entries out – except the ones that say “GSSR” in the subject line, and are on the paper-like background.

    My full mailing list includes lots of people who are more interested in the blog as a travelogue than for the boating technical content. Thus, I only send out to my full list when the topic is more “mainstream”. Also, and this is a little hard to explain, but when I post something on my site, and people come to the site, I feel more “free” in what I can say, and how much effort I need to put into polishing the content. I figure if its on my site, then if you don’t like what you see, you can always leave. But, if I am going to put something into your mailbox, then it has to rise to a higher quality standard.


    There are a couple reasons to visit my site from time to time…

    1) Only some of my blog entries are emailed
    2) The comments from visitors to my site are frequently more interesting, and educational, than anything I write. You can only see them by visiting my website.

    -Ken W

  2. It’s pretty funny that the monster radar’s homeport is Adak Island, Alaska! So, Sans Souci may see SBX-1 if she’s home. It appears that even though she hitched a ride from Dockwise, she’s self-propelled and the radar has to be shut off if a plane approaches to 8.5nm!

    Maybe they’ll let Ken tour their generator installation (NOT). She has six 12 cylinder CAT generators and they are going to 8 in case they “lose a compartment.” Perhaps the most humorous part of the story is that the concrete platform was built by a Russian shipyard!


  3. Capt: Are you sending these out to your “blog list”? If so, and I have registered, I ain’t getting’em.


  4. Sam:

    No, I wasn’t planning to use the Mac as my primary nav system. I may run GPSNavX, but just “for fun”. I expect to use Furuno NN3D as my primary and Coastal Explorer as my backup/planning tool, but the exact config is still under consideration.


  5. Adam, are you planning on running nav software on your Mac? In the past I’ve only used dedicated marine electronics for navigation, but I just bought GPSNavX to run vector charts on my Mac. It’s not nearly as powerful as Nobeltec or Coastal Explorer, but it’s cheap and a good backup to my dedicated electronics.


  6. Love the new look of the blog, with one exception. My old and tired eyes would appreciate it if the words could be a bit darker font of some type. I have to really squint to get my eyes to read the blog since you updated.

    Thanks – Chet

  7. Ken, thanks, those are fantastic. I’ll look into this more. The issue of course is partly about the actual wiring and partly about the protocol that’s running on those wires. Most of the monitoring systems (Simon, Krill, Maretron) can monitor arbitrary analog sensor outputs that use an analog signal calibrated in some way to the physical reality of whatever is being monitored (electrical current, liquid flow velocity, temperature). When it comes to digital outputs from complicated boxes like the ION or an engine management computer, there are a bunch of standard and not-so-standard protocols (Modbus, J1939, NMEA2000) that describe the digital signals those devices put on the wire. It’s certainly possible for a monitoring system to be able to connect to the physical sensor cable but be unable to interpret the digital signals on that cable. But it turns out that in a further search of your blog I found an answer to my original question in an email you posted from a Palladium tech: “Palladium is also providing one of our 3 port Modbus to Ethernet gateways, which make this data usable in SiMON via the Ethernet.” So there you go!

  8. Adam: I uploaded some pictures showing the Simon interface boxes… ( ( ( (

    Whether or not this is ModBus, I’m not sure… The circuit boards say “Simon”, but that may not mean anything.

    All sensors converge in these boxes, and the data is sent via ethernet to the Simon computer for display.

    -Ken W

  9. Ken: Always happy to help with feedback, and congratulations on those growth numbers! Realizing that you have only 25 hours in the day :), any thoughts on my ION questions in the “Apr 13, 2009, 01:53 AM EST” post below? I want to say again that your postings and comments are *indispensable*.

  10. Sam and Adam….

    Thanks for the input. I’ve relayed this to the programmers, who hopefully will get my site running better on Safari. My site is built with a website maker ( ( ), that is a startup venture of mine. It is currently in hyper-growth mode, adding about 500 sites a week, and we’re expecting it could be at 5,000 a week within the next two months. It’s kind of bad timing for Talkspot to decide to kick into high gear, at the same time I am busy with the boat.

    Being Safari users, here’s some interesting numbers for you: Of the last 10,000 visitors to my site, only 59% were running Internet Explorer. 24% were running Firefox, and 13% were running Safari. That’s a huge change from a few years back when Microsoft had essentially the whole market to itself. I’ve been ignoring Safari, thinking it was under 2% of the overall market. Obviously I need to take it more seriously.

    I wish there were a way to buy more hours each day! I could use a bunch of them.

    -Ken W

  11. Adam, I’m running Safari 4.0 beta and I can comment fine from it most of the time. However, sometimes only part of the comment box comes up when I click on the comment button. Clicking again solves the problem.


  12. Ken, I looked over the ION6200 brochure — interesting. Are you using (or planning to use) Modbus to interface Simon with the IONs? Since you say the IONs are currently monitoring but not yet integrated with Simon, I’m assuming you bought the modules that have integrated displays, correct? I see that the units with a computer interface but no display are a couple hundred less apiece. Does Simon currently have Modbus support or are they adding it for you?

    Separately, you may want to ask your programmer to take a look at your blog with Apple’s Safari browser, which is standard issue on the Mac [if Mac folks are a priority of yours 🙂 ]. Whatever Javascript thing is happening when one goes to post a comment to the blog doesn’t work in Safari — all you get is a white box. Works fine on Firefox on the Mac, however.



  13. Chuck: I’ll mention to my artist to darken the colors. Artists tend to think in terms of “prettiness” not functionality.

    -Ken W

  14. Chuck and Phil: Thank you for the information. It wouldn’t have occured to me that a license is required for crabbing. I’ll check my guests to see which of them want to fish. Neither Roberta nor I have ever cleaned a fish (or a crab) in our lives, so it will only be the guests who know what they are doing, and can be self sufficient. I’ll have a few of those!

    -Ken W

  15. Adam: I did go with the ultrasonic flow sensors, and they seem very good.

    I initially wanted to monitor all flow into or out of the seachest, but the meters, as well as the sensors, are bulky and expensive. I forget the cost, but believe is was around $2,000 per sensor. Ultimately, I decided to monitor only the hydraulic cooling and the a/c cooling lines. It was important to me to monitor the new Tides dripless shaft seals, but I decided that I am already monitoring the temperature at the shaft seals, and if the flow is inadequate to them, I’ll know it almost immediately. The same is true for the cooling water going to the generators and the watermakers.

    http://www.cleanmarinesyste (

    -Ken W

  16. Alaska and Canadian fishing licenses are required for each person fishing, not for the boat. Quite expensive. Also, you need the same license for crabbing! On another note, maybe it is my computer, but the print quality of the blog is poor, it is “faded” and difficult to read.

  17. Ken, thanks. I’ll take a look at those electrical sensors. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about our future N60’s electricals and am not satisfied with the default monitoring.

    Also, I recall that you ordered some water flow sensors that ended up *not* being the ultrasonic ones you expected. Am I right that you finally found some ultrasonic sensors that you were happy with? Thanks again for the great information!


  18. Sam:

    As you said, 1,500 pounds on a 220,000 pound boat seems irrelevant. I’m fairly certain we would be ok. However, there’s an area I don’t understand which is “momentum”. A shifting mass can exert more influence than a stable one. This is why fuel and water tanks must be baffled. If water moves quickly, when a boat leans over, it can somehow create problems. I’m no expert on this topic, and have just decided the right answer is to empty the hot tub when moving. It’s less work than doing the math to see if I really am safe.

    -Ken W

  19. Adam:

    Here’s what I bought:

    The Ion 6200, from Power Logic. (

    I’ve only played with them a bit, so I’m still learning. Thus far, I’ve very impressed, and even without a monitoring system they are worth having on a boat (if the price isn’t too painful – around $900 each).

    I bought the version shown as “EP#2” on the brochure. They give digital readouts for voltage and current, as well as showing average demand and peak demand.

    There are now three of these on Sans Souci: the 20kw generator, the 25kw generator, and shorepower (if bypassing the Atlas). Additionally, I get similar information directly from the Atlas (my shorepower converter). My goal was to be able to at all times know exactly the consumption on the boat, so that I know when I am in danger of tripping a breaker. Currently, I do get information about consumption, but there are hidden sources of electricity, and consumers of electricity. This will give me “at a glance” exactly what my consumption from the generators or shorepower is.

    All of this is overkill, and arguably unnecessary. Only someone who had spent months fighting with their electrical system daily would understand why this was worth it to me. My boat was delivered with some gremlins in the electrical system. These probably could have been resolved if I’d ever had the boat sit still, but the boat was almost non-stop on the move for its first year (over 10,000 miles!). Now that the system is stable, I probably don’t need these meters, although, I do like having them.

    -Ken W

  20. It sure seems that an extra 1500 pounds on a 200,000 pound boat wouldn’t be much of a problem. I’d be interested to see how the boat reacts with the extra weight aloft since others have had success slowing down roll periods by moving water into tanks located high up. And I’d love to see a picture of the hot tub filled while in the Aleutians. They look like some spectacular cruising and I hope to someday have the time and money to explore them. Until then, I’ll be watching your blog and hoping you have an uneventful trip. Enjoy it, not many others have had the opportunity to see the area!


  21. Greetings Capt Kai:

    The jacuzzi holds 250 gallons of water, although typically I only put about 200 gallons in. Anything more sloshes overboard the first time their is any swell.

    It is a standard four person hot tub, molded in fiberglass. It’s the same exact hot tub Nordhavn uses on their N86. I’m not sure what they are using on the N120.

    We have two systems for heating. One is the standard “off the shelf 120v system” that comes with the hot tub. I consider it totally useless other than the jets.

    The other system is based around a heat exchanger from the Kabola diesel furnace.

    Were I doing it again….

    To keep things simple, I’d just put 240v to the hot tub. The 120v power provides only a 1.5kw electric heater, which in the words of the hot tub repairman this weekend “.. might get the water hot over a three day period.” With 240v we could easily install 6kw of heat, and heat the tub quickly.

    The Kabola setup I have works terrific, and uses no electricity. However, it is complex, with lots of moving parts. It is great when it works, but it is non-standard, and hard to get fixed when it doesn’t work. I wouldn’t do it again.

    -Ken W

  22. Hello Ken,
    i just read about your heating system for your jacuzzi. What system are you using for heating the jacuzzi and how many water is in the jacuzzi ?

    Best regards
    German Captain Kai
    MY”Belle de Jour”

  23. Chuck:

    I don’t know the policy for Siberia or Japan. My guess is that we’ll be fine. I’ve been through dozens of countries, and still haven’t had to thrown away anything from a freezer. The closest we came was at my HOME MARINA in Mexico! The agricultural inspectors came on board, and wanted to look in the freezers. Luckily, most of the meat had been purchased at Costco in Ensenada. They took my word for it, and left everything as was. I really didn’t understand their concern. I regularly travel back and forth (via plane) to Mexico, and often carry frozen meat. The customs guys in the airport have opened the cooler many times, and never seem to care. As long as the meat is frozen, they seem happy.

    If Siberian customs were to confiscate all our meat, it wouldn’t be that horrible. I assume Petrapovlosk is a big enough city that we can load on food to get us to Japan, and once in Japan, we’ll be able to buy high-quality foods easily.

    Some of the guests on my boat are looking forward to fishing. I haven’t at all investigating getting legal for fishing in Canada and Alaska. Anyone know what the issues are?

    -Ken W

  24. Sam:

    In my opinion, we could safely use the hot tub, while underway, in calm conditions. It is a lot of weight up high, but not that much weight (it takes around 200 gallons of water, so around 1,500 pounds).

    That said, our policy on Sans Souci is to empty the hot tub before moving. It’s tough to accurately predict the seas.

    We normally only fill it when we are going to be in one place for more than a couple days, such as in an anchorage, or at the dock in a marina. I never worry about filtering the water. I just fill it, use it for a day or two, and dump the water.

    It would be really cool to be at anchor in the aleutians, and get a picture of it with steam coming off the water (and, us in it)!

    -Ken W

  25. Are you concerned food, in particular meats, might be confiscated. I know Canada is ok on this, but what about Russia and Japan?

  26. Can you use the hot tub while underway in calm conditions? Or is it too much weight to have sloshing around up high?


  27. Ahh…….hot tub broken……..poor baby…..weap, nashing of teeth, sob. Flagellating. Wearing hair shirt. Deal With It!!!!!!………….hope your skin wrinkles permanently!!


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